Drive to cut UK offshore costs

The Crown Estate has unveiled an initiative aimed at achieving the more effective use of jack-up vessels to bring down offshore turbine maintenance costs.

Working with the wind industry to identify common challenges and opportunities, a Crown Estate report, Jack-up optimisation, makes recommendations to improve repair times, reduce repair cost and address risk.

The report says greater collaboration between wind farm owners in chartering jack-up vessels could help cut costs. It suggests a flexible charter club, through which owners pre-plan to share vessels without engaging a full-time shared vessel.

“We have been a major player in the development of the offshore wind industry for over ten years and seen significant growth in that time to the point where there are now economies of scale to be found in the effective use of jack-up vessels,” says Huub den Rooijen, head of offshore wind at the UK seabed landlord.

“This report is part of our strategy to encourage the industry to work together where appropriate to help bring down costs.”

More than 500 jack-up vessel interventions have been made at wind farms in UK waters to date, and long periods of turbine downtime can occur while repair campaigns are planned and delivered, costing millions of pounds in lost revenue.

In addition, jack-up vessel deployment and mobilisation costs can form a substantial proportion of repair bills and make fast repairs of single turbines challenging to justify in isolation.

The report finds that faster response times and more efficient project planning can help lower the cost of energy. This is especially apparent with the increasing scale of deployment and geographic clustering of offshore projects.

Greater collaboration could therefore minimise lost production revenue by £52m-110m ($68m-$145m) per year across currently operational UK offshore wind farms.

The report complements the Crown Estate’s broader role in the renewables sector as it works to support the development of Britain's offshore wind industry, with up to £100m of investment.

This has been targeted at a range of initiatives designed to accelerate development and attract investors, such as the Marine Data Exchange, which provides access to survey data and reports collated during planning, building and operations.